West Africa Combats Piracy
More than 20 nations are partnering with the Nigerian Navy to combat piracy. The Nigerians, naval officials from neighboring countries as well as U.N. representatives convened at the 2015 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) conference, which is hosted annually by Nigeria’s Navy in Lagos.
A key agenda of the conference is to build cooperation in Africa and increase coastal surveillance to enhance maritime security. Pirates along Africa’s west coast constantly disrupt commerce by stealing crude oil, poaching fish in territorial waters and robbing cargoes from ships and have murdered crew members.
Since 2008, piracy has spiked and Nigeria claims losses of about $2 billion per year. The Nigerian government said it loses $800 million due to illegal fishing and $9 million from piracy attacks and another $16 million to oil thefts and hundreds of millions that are paid in ransoms for ships and crews.
The chief of Nigerian naval operations said that while Africa has immense maritime resources the continent has a myriad of challenges. He pointed out that the Nigerian navy will increase its vigilance over maritime and combat piracy and oil theft.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) say it plans to have regular meetings with naval officials to coordinate anti-piracy efforts.
Recently, Nigeria has combated piracy by destroying 200 illegal oil refineries, 58 oil barges and arrested more than 80 pirate vessels.